Portrait of an icon: Dogwood Festival setting in 80th anniversary painting
To commemorate this year's 80th Fairfield Dogwood Festival, Fairfield artist Karl Soderlund has created an original painting of the landmark Greenfield Congregational Church.
"He made us a beautiful painting," said Lori Fernandes, this year's festival chairwoman.
The event opens Friday and runs through Sunday on the historic grounds of the church, 1045 Old Academy Road, which was first established on the site nearly three centuries ago.
"The painting is lovely. It's a beautiful landscape. It's serene, pastoral and colorful," said Marcia Carothers, a longtime festival volunteer.
Soderlund created the painting using a traditional, realistic style, unlike the most of his more recent works in which he splatters paint onto a canvas using a brush.
All kids doodle, draw and finger paint. Soderlund took his childhood love of art to a whole different level, studying the paintings on the walls of his parents' Easton home and attempting to replicate them.
Painting remained strictly a hobby through college, where he earned a degree in economics. Only after the chairman of the New York company that employed Soderlund took note of his work and offered him a rare opportunity to work part time and devote the rest of his time to his art did he see the possibilities of painting as a profession.
Soderlund, who has a studio on Unquowa Road, has developed a unique style, becoming known more recently as a splatter artist. He creates landscapes, seascapes, and even portraits using his unusual splatter technique, loosely inspired by Jackson Pollack but more controlled. Up close, Soderlund's paintings look like a long-used drop cloth covered in an explosion of colors. From a distance those splatters take shape, revealing his deliberate compositions.
"I'm always pushing myself to try different things," said Soderlund, who began experimenting with the splatter technique about two years ago using his wife Amanda as his model and muse.
"I started playing around with the technique. It didn't come together right away," he said, adding that he loves the fluidity of Jackson Pollack's work and feels he achieves a sense of movement in his own paintings.
Watching Soderlund's painting process the colors look randomly placed, yet it takes considerable thought to organize the seeming colorful chaos and coax an intended image from the splatter marks. It takes about six splatter sessions to complete a painting. If he doesn't get the paint in the right spot he has to let it dry before he can splatter over it. Yet, having the paint stray a bit is not completely undesirable, he said. It creates depth in a painting.
Soderlund has produced 225 limited edition prints of his Greenfield Hill Congregational Church painting. The framed prints will be available for sale at the festival for $399, with proceeds going to charity, Fernandes said. The prints can also be purchased via the church website.
"We are proud to represent Karl, and to offer this beautiful print," she said.
For more details about the 80th annual Dogwood Festival, visit www.greenfieldhillchurch.com.